Faculty Spotlight: Meet Paul Pampinella, Contemporary Vocal Ensembles

Faculty Spotlight: Meet Paul Pampinella, Contemporary Vocal Ensembles

Pampinella2WebVoice Department Faculty Paul Pampinella will lead the new contemporary vocal ensembles for teens and adults, Wednesday evenings beginning March 29.

What vocal styles do you teach? 
Primarily contemporary styles: Pop/Rock, Jazz, Musical Theater. I also teach some guitar, piano, and bass guitar. I’ll be leading the Contempo Voices ensembles for teens and adults this spring.

Do you actively perform? 
I perform with two a cappella groups, Vox One (jazz) and Five O’Clock Shadow (pop/rock). I also perform with a group called the Vintage Vocal Quartet that performs close harmony music of the swing era (1930’s – 40’s). I’ll be performing with the Vintage Vocal Quartet at the Indian Hill Music Gala on May 13! I sing and play electric guitar in that ensemble. Beyond that, I sing and play acoustic guitar in a guitar duo that performs rock hits from the 60’s to 2000’s.


Why did you choose to study your instrument? 
I started taking piano lessons at age 6, mostly because my older sister was doing it, and I didn’t want to be left out. Both my sister and I were child singers in a New York City jingle house, and sang on a lot of ads in the 70’s. But I chose to study guitar when I was 12, and then took voice lessons at 17 just prior to attending Berklee College of Music. Voice ended up being my principal instrument, and I’ve been an Assistant Professor of Voice at Berklee for over a decade.

Was there one teacher or program that inspired you the most as you were learning?I studied music theory in New York City with a private teacher, Helen Hobbs Jordan, for two years prior to attending college. She had her own method of teaching which broke theory down into its component parts; pitches, rhythm, meter, and keyboard harmony. I learned effective and efficient practice habits from her. Whenever possible during lessons, I break everything down before expecting students to digest a whole concept.

How long have you been at IHM? What do you like most about teaching here?
I’ve been teaching here for over 10 years as well. I appreciate the diversity of students who show up at Indian Hill; from middle school to middle age, and beyond. There are lots of students interested in music simply for enrichment, and some that are interested in making it a career, or at least a very serious hobby. I think engaging in music at any level and any age is worthwhile, so I’m happy to teach anyone who has enough interest to sign up.

What can students expect to learn and do in your Contempo Voices classes? I’ll start with the end-goal; I hope to create a short program of music (2-3 songs) that can be performed at the end of the run of the class. The music will consist of songs that everyone in the class agrees upon (I don’t have a strict agenda – it’s based on what most people in the teen and adult classes choose to sing). We will look for songs that have lots of background vocals, and trade off lead vocals, so that everyone will have a part. I will accompany on guitar or piano, and if anyone in the class plays any instrument (guitar, piano, bass, drums, or even brass or woodwind) we’ll try to incorporate those as well.

What do you like to do when you’re not teaching or performing? 
I enjoy cooking (you want me to be a part of your pot-luck, trust me). I also love to watch documentaries — history, food/agriculture, environmental issues, etc. I used to play a lot of tennis — I don’t get the opportunity much these days, but I would if I could! And, I’m a dance dad – my daughter is on a competition team and that keeps us really busy!


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